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IDF Urban Warfare Training: Preparing for ISIS

Israeli soldiers walk with their weapons behind a group of Palestinians during clashes in Hebron

YNET: Caracal fighters training for ISIS incursion
Amid the rising threat of a coordinated ISIS attack from Sinai, the mixed-gender battalion has begun training on complex urban warfare scenarios like those they may face after an ISIS attack.

Where and when will ISIS in Sinai act against Israel? The Israeli Intelligence community has been struggling to provide a real answer to this question in the last year. The reasons are varied – the ISIS branch operating out of Sinai is quite compartmentalized, and spread throughout a massive desert territory. They have no permanent training base, and use local Bedouin smugglers to operate in the border area. In any case, in order to prepare for the possibility of an attack, the mixed gender Caracal battalion has begun training in urban warfare.

In the face of this reality, military intelligence has been pouring resources into building a better intelligence picture of the organization which calls itself “Ansar Bait al-Maqdis,” and although a whole department in the Shin Bet was established for this specific purpose in the wake of the revolution in Egypt, the Southern Command has been preparing for the worst case scenario. These scenarios include ISIS attacks on the Nitzana and Kerem Shalom crossing, or on the Israeli towns and villages near the northern portion of the Israeli/Egyptian border.

Dozens of terrorists are expected to partake in such an attack, which will most likely take place as part of a larger military-like operation, similar to the attacks conducted against Egyptian military outposts in the last year which caused the deaths of dozens of Egyptian police officers and soldiers. The coordinated attacks on the Egyptian army included attempts to capture swaths of urban terrain in northern Sinai.

A tall fence, which spans 220 kilometers on the border, is only expected to delay any strategic attack of the type planned by ISIS, which the Southern Command deems a “military operation” for all intents and purposes. As such, the fence is merely an element of the broader IDF readiness. The IDF’s Caracal battalion, which is permanently charged with protecting a large swath of the Egyptian border area, took part in urban warfare training similar to that of other IDF infantry units, for the first time since its establishment.

As such, IDF officials believe that the mixed gender battalion – which includes male and female fighters, can do battle quickly and efficiently inside of Israeli towns or villages in the case of an ISIS incursion. The thinking within the Edom brigade, which is responsible for the border, is that the first responders to arrive on the scene of such an attack, like others which have taken place in recent years, will be the Caracal fighters who are responsible for the regional section, but whose training has never included urban warfare.

The first class of Caracal fighters recently trained on clearing buildings at the Kziot base, while using pyrotechnic effects which simulated live fire and grenades. In addition to the urban warfare training, the fighters practiced camouflage and observation techniques against militant forces across the border.

The command recently set concrete barriers along the border, in an attempt to disrupt anti-tank missile fire. Tank ambushes are also used by the Edom brigade in complex situations.

According to a deputy company commander in the battalion, Lt. Oren Pasan, “The region here is not similar to the West Bank, there you constantly feel the tension, which helps maintain a high level of operational readiness, and as such we hold as many simulated attack exercises as possible.”


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